FaithWorld

Pope Francis includes women, Muslims for first time in Holy Thursday rite

March 29, 2013

Pope Francis washes the foot of a prisoner at Casal del Marmo youth prison in Rome March 28, 2013. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano

Two young women were among 12 people whose feet Pope Francis washed and kissed at a traditional ceremony in a Rome youth prison on Holy Thursday, the first time a pontiff has included females in the rite.

The pope traveled to the Casal del Marmo prison on Rome’s outskirts for the traditional Mass, which commemorates Jesus’s gesture of humility towards his apostles the night before he died.

The ceremony has been traditionally limited to men because all of Jesus’ apostles were male. The Vatican spokesman said two of the 12 whose feet were washed were Muslim inmates.

While the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio included women in the rite when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, it was the first time women had taken part in a papal Holy Thursday ceremony.

Taking the ceremony to a youth prison was also a papal first and Francis, who was elected only two weeks ago, said he wanted to be closer to those who were suffering.

All popes in living memory have held the service either in St. Peter’s or the Basilica of St. John in Lateran, which is the pope’s cathedral church in his capacity as bishop of Rome.

In a brief, unscripted homily, the pope told the young inmates that everyone, including him, had to be in the service of others.

“It is the example of the Lord. He was the most important but he washed the feet of others. The most important must be at the service of others,” he said.

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More important than the liturgical statement Pope Francis may have intended to telegraph is that, in doing so, he may have overlooked, neglected, or disregarded, if not violated Muslim law.according to the Code of Ethics for Muslim Men and Women—Rules Related to Socializing:

The Rules of Touching

193 – Rule: Body contact is not allowed with one who it is not allowed to look at, and every kind of touching of the body to any part of the other one’s body is haram and one must refrain from this; unless it from on top of the clothing and it is without the intention of lust. ABGKLMS
While the Pope may have intended this particular footwashing to be “a positive sign” in the life of the Serbian Muslim inmate whose foot he washed, strict Muslims may take offense.

Like Pope Benedict XVI, it may not be long before Pope Francis finds himself being challenged by an Imam who issues a fatwa. In October 2006,Prominent Jamaat leader Hafiz Saifullah Khalid said that in the present circumstances, jihad has become obligatory for each Muslim. Muslims are being declared terrorists and our battle for survival has already started.

Eschewing protocol can be refreshing and prove reinvigorating. It can be a sign of love and respect, fulfilling the spirit of the law” rather than living according to the “letter of the law.”

In retrospect, it can also cause unintended problems.In retrospect, it can also cause unintended problems.

Posted by domchrist | Report as abusive
 

What is this “Rule 193″? On whose authority was it issued? If this is a Jamaat document, does Jamaat speak for all Muslims?

 

I am very surprised that Pope Francis included muslim females in this act. The two females allowed him to touch them, in violation of the Muslim law, as they should know and obey the laws of their religion.
I hope this traditional act of humility don’t cause any problems for Pope Francis or the two females.

Posted by Norky51 | Report as abusive
 

Norky51, do you see anywhere in the article it mentions Muslim female inmates. I would practically say this could be media propagation as there is no way to confirm the authenticity of this washing.

Posted by ShakeelD | Report as abusive
 

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